The efficiency of photovoltaic cells exposed to pulsed laser light
Future space missions may use laser power beaming systems with a free electron laser (FEL) to transmit light to a photovoltaic array receiver. To investigate the efficiency of solar cells with pulsed laser light, several types of GaAs, Si, CuInSe2, and GaSb cells were tested with the simulated pulse format of the induction and radio frequency (RF) FEL. The induction pulse format was simulated with an 800-watt average power copper vapor laser and the RF format with a frequency-doubled mode-locked Nd:YAG laser. Averaged current vs bias voltage measurements for each cell were taken at various optical power levels and the efficiency measured at the maximum power point. Experimental results show that the conversion efficiency for the cells tested is highly dependent on cell minority carrier lifetime, the width and frequency of the pulses, load impedance, and the average incident power. Three main effects were found to decrease the efficiency of solar cells exposed to simulated FEL illumination: cell series resistance, LC 'ringing', and output inductance. Improvements in efficiency were achieved by modifying the frequency response of the cell to match the spectral energy content of the laser pulse with external passive components.
Book contributor NASA